Manchester Courthouse renovations sparking new growth

By Rachel DePompa - bio | email
Posted by Phil Riggan - email

RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) - After more than a year of construction, the grand re-opening of the Manchester Courthouse is about two months away. Work may be winding down but it's also sparking tremendous changes in one of Richmond's oldest neighborhoods.

Work began on the Courthouse nearly a year and a half ago. It's a $29 million expansion project that appears to be spilling out into the neighborhood.

"We have about 40 apartments filled," said developer Kelvin Hanson of the Hanson Company, who thinks historic Manchester is a gold mine of potential.

"This was an area maybe three or four years ago maybe no one would have looked at and it's shaping up into a nice village. It'll be a place where you can live work and play," he said.

Hanson just finished turning a dilapidated building into 60 apartments called the Old Manchester Plaza.

Forty of the units are affordable housing for families making $40,000 or less.

"It looks totally different than what it originally looked like," Hanson said. "But we had to save some of the historical features."

He also transformed an old plumbing company, making room for Manchester's new restaurant, Croaker's Spot -- the second location for the Jackson Ward hot spot. It's scheduled to open next month.

"It gives us once again an opportunity to come into an area, that had been forgotten about really and some flavor add some spice, bring some life to an area a lot of people just kind of overlooked," said Enjoli Moon, operations manager for Croaker's Spot.

No one is overlooking Manchester now. The work at the old courthouse has already brought in a new law firm, and bail bondsman. A pizzeria is on the way and the growth is spreading east, up Hull Street.

"This is a little building that we saved from the wrecking ball. The entire roof was laying on the ground," said architect Walter Parks.

Parks is renovating the abandoned structure into 10 more apartments and a coffee shop. He says this area will soon be thriving.

"It takes time. It's not like light switch you flip on and off," he said.

The courthouse apparently started a chain reaction of growth. Now the developers are hoping, when it opens it generates business.

"We're banking on it bringing some people up the street," Moon said.

The renovated Manchester Courthouse is expected to reopen January 5.

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